Blue Shield of California has announced the creation of an online dashboard that company officials believe will advance public health services, increase transparency around community health, and help address health disparities in California.
The tool, called the Neighborhood Health Dashboard, uses data intelligence from dozens of sources, aiming to create a comprehensive picture of a community’s health including: health outcomes, preventative healthcare, utilization and access, health behaviors, social risk factors, and environment and economic health conditions.
The online tool is available free to the public, with the goal to provide support to organizations and individuals such as community organizations, health advocates, hospitals, physicians, public health officials and policymakers to better understand the health of their neighborhoods and address the needs within their communities, according to officials.
The Oakland-based Blue Shield of California is an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over four million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue.
The tool was developed in collaboration with mySidewalk, a city intelligence platforms, and initially made available to Blue Shield’s Community Health Advocates, including those serving in the L.A. Care Health Plan/Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan Community Resource Center.
Sarah Martin, vice president of Health Solutions for mySidewalk, noted, “Our mission is to empower city leaders and the public with the most complete, clear and real-time understanding of their communities so they can improve and innovate together.”
To leverage the platform, a user can enter an address or zip code to generate an interactive, web-based dashboard that is customized to a zip code level with a unique URL that can be shared with others. The tool includes nearly 100 data indicators that is designed to capture a holistic view of a community’s health to help inform advocacy and action for improvement.
“Community health needs assessments are important tools in helping to align disparate organizations in a common strategy to improve the health of the community and address health disparities,” said Peter Long, senior vice president of Healthcare and Community Health Transformation at Blue Shield of California. “By making the data publicly available, anyone can gain a deeper understanding of the unmet social needs in their community and serve the population with increased knowledge about issues that have an impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”
Most recently, the platform was used to produce California’s Vulnerability Index, which focuses on social and economic vulnerability of communities to start conversations about equitably prioritizing the allocation of resources for COVID-19 recovery efforts. In addition to the health impact of the pandemic on different communities, the report also considers which areas are likely to have a more difficult time recovering from the coronavirus-related shutdowns, job reductions and layoffs, officials noted.
What’s more, the Neighborhood Health Dashboard is the latest example of Blue Shield of California’s Health Reimagined initiative. The collaboration with mySidewalk seeks to transform the healthcare system for individuals, families and communities by sharing important information with all Californians to identify local drivers of health inequities that result from historical and systemic injustices including racism, bias, and discrimination.
“The Neighborhood Health Dashboard is a critical resource that will help Community Health Centers in California identify community health needs and align programming and resources accordingly,” said Mike Witte, chief medical officer, California Primary Care Association. “Ultimately, patients and providers of Community Health Centers will benefit when our members and communities are able to collectively work to identify opportunities to improve individual and community level health.”